Gold, Treasuries rise as recession, trade fears rattle investors

Herbert Lash and Rodrigo Campos, Reuters

Posted at Aug 28 2019 08:25 AM

Gold bars and coins are stacked in the safe deposit boxes room of the Pro Aurum gold house in Munich, Germany, August 14, 2019. Michael Dalder, Reuters

NEW YORK -- Declining stocks on Wall Street weighed down a global equities gauge on Tuesday on lingering worries about the US-China trade war, while demand for US Treasuries and precious metals rose on recession fears.

The US yield curve inversion deepened to levels not seen since 2007 and gold futures rose as recession concerns gripped investors. Silver touched a two-year high.

Stocks opened higher on Wall Street after US President Donald Trump said China had offered to resume trade talks, though uncertainty prevailed as Beijing declined to confirm Trump's assertion.

US stocks initially opened higher, building on Monday's advance after Trump's comments. China's foreign ministry, however, reiterated on Tuesday that it had not received any recent U.S. telephone calls on trade.

"It is going to be pretty confusing and unfortunately, without some kind of a major backpedaling on trade... the economy is going to suffer," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Capital Management in Chicago.

Bank shares, which tend to weaken in lower rate and soft economic environments, lost 1 percent on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 120.93 points, or 0.47 percent, to 25,777.9, the S&P 500 lost 9.22 points, or 0.32 percent, to 2,869.16 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 26.79 points, or 0.34 percent, to 7,826.95.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.63 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.03 percent.

Emerging market stocks rose 0.39 percent. Nikkei futures lost 0.66 percent.

The deepening yield curve inversion reflects investor nervousness about a recession and uncertainties over the trade conflict between China and the United States.

"It's not a sign of confidence in inflation or a pick-up in growth," said Mike Lorizio, head of Treasuries trading at Manulife Asset Management in Boston.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 21/32 in price to yield 1.4744 percent, from 1.544 percent late on Monday.

The yield curve inversion also pressured the dollar.

"You have seen a push deeper into inversion in the 2s/10s curve. Today, it's hard to put your finger on one specific driver of that inversion - though that might be contributing to the general sense of risk-off in the market," said Brian Daingerfield, macro strategist at RBS Securities.

The dollar fell against the safe-haven Japanese yen while the euro declined against the greenback.

The dollar index fell 0.05 percent, with the euro down 0.1 percent to $1.1089.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.35 percent versus the greenback at 105.77 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.2285, up 0.57 percent on the day.

Emerging market currencies suffered across the globe, with the Colombian peso brushing against its record low near 3,478 per dollar.

Oil prices rose, buoyed by expectations of a drawdown in US crude inventories, though gains were capped by worries about a recession and uncertainty over a China-US trade deal.

US crude rose 3.45 percent to $55.49 per barrel and Brent was last at $59.91, up 2.06 percent on the day.

Spot gold added 1.1 percent to $1,542.70 an ounce. Spot silver gained 3.14 percent to $18.18 an ounce after touching its highest since September 2017.